Both sexes in relationships yearn for appreciation. In other words, both long to be showered with praise and compliments every now and again, most especially the females, who happen to be the most self-conscious of the sexes. Whether in the physical appearance or achievement department, some form of reassurance is needed most of the time. Although men crave recognition too, we will focus on the ladies first, starting with the importance of compliments from men to women in relationships.
At times I wonder why the issue of paying genuine compliments to women seems harder and harder to pull off. This should not be the case if the right kind of attention is paid to a woman’s likes, her passion, and areas in which she exudes strength and confidence. Then compliments should flow naturally. To all the men reading this, I discovered through a recent feedback from some of my female respondents in an opinion poll I conducted that a large number of them believe that most of the compliments they are showered with on a regular basis by their boyfriends or husbands at home, work, or social functions, seem to lack substance. Although they accept this, they still do not mind the attention, because for most women, a fake compliment is by far better than no compliment.
This information hardly came as a surprise to me because, having grown up in a predominantly female environment, my notion has always been, even from a tender age that compliments to a woman are like oxygen: something required on a constant basis.
One could even go further to say, reiterating the title of this article (without being crucified, of course) that for any woman, in the absence of the proverbial apple, a compliment a day would definitely keep her doctor away. For the ‘Mr Cynical in our midst who thinks the last statement lack credibility, all you need do is cast your mind back to the time you came home from work and found your woman in a pensive mood. Rather than argue over what a long hard day you’d had at work, or how you could not be bothered to deal with her moods, the first thing you did was cuddle, kiss, and remind her what a one-in-a-million girlfriend or wife she was. That singular act could definitely make all the difference.
Dear gentlemen, if that has yet to happen, it’s never too late to give it a shot. I already have on a number of occasions, and believe me when I say it defies the imagination how the power of a genuine compliment can sometimes usher in a swift transformation from what was once a reservoir of negative emotions to a fountain of positive inner feeling. This change does not have to be an immediate experience, but as the man in this situation, you would have just given your woman the emotional medication she has perhaps yearned for all along, setting her on her way to recovery. Speedy or otherwise, it works most of the time. So barring the free flow of genuine compliments, there’s no telling what might happen. Like the few times I paid my even my own baby sister compliments, I usually got what I wanted, but after a while it seemed their hypnotic power gradually wore off. I soon realised that anytime I remarked on how beautiful she was, ‘Thank you, mister’ would be her cheeky response, laced with the killer line, ‘But what is it you want this time Mr Shash?’ That is even before opening my gob to utter a request- so unfair. I guess at the time I needed to step up my game in the compliments arena.
If a man pays a woman he adores – and in whom he has shown interest- a compliment, and does not intend lying awake all night wondering if it had the desired effect, he needs to ensure that she agrees with that compliment deep down in her heart. That, of course, can be achieved by steering clear of surface compliments like, ‘You’re looking fabulous today!’ because if indeed she is the super-confident type, there’s not an iota of doubt that she is already aware of it prior to leaving home. Why? Well, it is no secret most women really do love their mirrors, be it the ones that adorn their wardrobes or walls or especially the hand held type, permanently resident in handbags, hence the reason most appearance-conscious women rarely leave their homes without them. For every five diva-like handbags we see in public places, there are certain to be at least three hand held mirrors tucked away somewhere. Don’t forget the make-up sets to match, in case of fashion ’emergencies’. So in terms of the art of paying compliments, it would be much more effective for the man either to tell the woman concerned the good thing she hasn’t yet noticed about herself, or better still to emphasise in a unique way what she already knows.
Say you are a man on a date with a woman, and in the course of your conversation she reveals to you that she is a writer by profession or perhaps the published author of a particular work, comments such as, ‘Really? That is fantastic.’ or ‘That’s quite remarkable’- without, of course, being over the top – would no doubt be well received. However, let’s rewind the conversation a little bit. In this scenario, you happen to be one step ahead, having actually read some of her works, so you cite the areas that most interested you. The result: the compliment would then take on a whole new meaning, having a much more genuine feel. Even if you haven’t encountered any of her works, but have read something similar in genre, the commendation would carry some weight.
At a workshop for writers I once attended, I had the opportunity of meeting the author of a bestselling work of non-fiction. Although, I must confess, I initially felt a bit star-struck, utilising the latter part of our conversation to highlight the areas of her work I found the most intriguing paved the way for what was to become, and still is, a positive professional relationship.
I must say that I have on a number of occasions been the recipient of genuine compliments from the opposite sex too, and one of my observations is that, although women don’t pay compliments to men as often as men do to women, they are usually on point when they do.
One memorable instance was when Roberta, a colleague of mine in an office where I once worked, remarked, ‘The fragrance you’re wearing smells real nice. What designer is it? I would definitely like to get one for James.’ James, by the way, was her husband. So it is easy to understand how my ego quadrupled with that compliment, because indirectly speaking, she wanted her man to smell like me. Another time, at least six women on different occasions and in different locations commented how much they liked a distinctive new pair of black suede shoes with white soles I was wearing. Mind you, I didn’t hesitate to order a couple more identical pairs the same week, because (and please trust me when I say this), when it came to style and fashion sense, six discerning women who – as far as I know- had never met each other couldn’t all have been wrong!
Women’s compliments to men are usually targeted and more specific than those paid by men to women. In most cases, a woman either likes what she sees or she doesn’t. If she doesn’t, but secretly admires the man, she will try her best to effect a change, usually through a polite and constructive criticism such as, ‘A shorter haircut seems to suit you better’. If some level of fondness or familiarity is already in place, she might display a bit more boldness, saying, ‘I actually prefer your clean-shaven looks’. However, if she has no iota of attraction for the man whatsoever, she wouldn’t care if he showed up at the door looking hairier than Captain Caveman in the classic cartoon series.
Men, the architects behind most compliments, have their own needs. At the top of that list are the needs for appreciation, recognition, and respect from their women. I mentioned earlier how mirrors in handbags are like sidekicks to women, some men, however, do have little insecurities, or should we say vanities of their own too, especially in a bid to make a long-lasting impression with the ladies. One notable example is none other than the ‘six-pack abs’ madness.
SIX -PACK ABS FOR SALE – HURRY! (A brief, light-hearted digression…)
Ever wonder about the masculine craze for six-pack abs? Any idea as to why these men – the ‘Six-Pack Disciples’ – would go to any lengths to acquire that perfect body tone? Imagine for a brief moment the comical implications of having ‘six packs’ on sale in any top supermarket, say Tesco or Walmart retail store: some of these men would shop till they drop, not to mention the disastrous prospect of a mad rush that would accompany a January Sale or a buy-one-get-one-free special offer!
To cap it all up, let us remember: Real women love genuine compliments, and the real men crave recognition, gentle praise and appreciation.